Blaze a trail

Bright spark Ja­son Par­nell-Brookes shows you how to cre­ate fiery wire wool light trails

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Cre­ate sparky light trails us­ing burn­ing wire wool and long ex­po­sures

Red hot glow­ing em­bers raining onto the walls and floor is rem­i­nis­cent of a scene in­side an iron works. How­ever you don’t need an in­dus­trial build­ing for this – you can cre­ate a blaz­ing trail of metal sparks in your gar­den, as we’ll show.

This tu­to­rial in­volves set­ting steel wool on fire, so ob­vi­ously the cru­cial thing here is to take com­plete care of your­self and your sur­round­ings. Safety is al­ways para­mount. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to wear sturdy cloth­ing made from a ma­te­rial that won’t melt or catch light if a spark hits it, such as jeans or heavy-duty cot­ton over­alls. Pro­tec­tive gog­gles will also come in handy, if you have them.

Be care­ful not to let the em­bers smoul­der on the ground. Take some wa­ter or sand along to ex­tin­guish the heat from any cin­ders be­fore walk­ing away from your lo­ca­tion. If the weather has been par­tic­u­larly dry or you’re feel­ing anx­ious about it, head to a lo­ca­tion which is free of grass, leaves and trees. Stone struc­tures work well – we used a con­cretesided tun­nel for our shot.

We vis­ited a hard­ware shop to get the wire wool. We’ve listed ev­ery­thing else you’ll need on the left, but it’s worth not­ing that the finer your steel wool, the bet­ter it will burn. We also grabbed a whisk out of the kitchen drawer; make sure you use a metal one for this tech­nique.

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